How England paid the penalty again for an attack of the sporting yips | Richard Williams

When the Under-17s lost a final they had all but won with a couple of misses from 12 yards it again underlined that English football’s version of the yips needs a long-overdue cure

The yips can take more than one form. Usually we think of the phenomenon in terms of an individual submitting to a technical meltdown: a golfer seizing up at the sight of a six-inch putt, a tennis player suddenly incapable of tossing the ball up for a serve accurately, or a bowler losing the ability to land the ball anywhere near the cut strip.

Jon Lester is one of the stranger variations. A recent issue of Sports Illustrated carried a long and absorbing feature on the 33-year-old left-handed pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, who mysteriously lost the ability several years ago to throw the ball to first base. Facing a batter, he was as effective as ever. Turn him 90 degrees left, and he was like a man trying to find a target while blindfolded.

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